For a pay per click campaign to succeed you need to make sure that the phrases that trigger your ads actually benefit your business. These are the phrases that people type in that resulted in your ad being shown.

Reviewing the Google Search Term Report regularly is critical to a campaign’s success.
You need to read the Search Term Report regularly

If you’re running ads with Google AdWords, or Bing Ads, there is one report that is required reading, the search term report.

If you’re not reading it regularly you could be missing out on opportunities, or, more importantly, wasting money

Even if you have a specialist or an agency running your campaign, I’d still recommend reading it regularly. They might miss things that you as a business owner or manager may discover.

If you’re not familiar with the search term report, it’s a list of the words people typed in that triggered your ads.

For example, your targeted keyword phrase is pizza. You could find in your report that your ad was shown when people typed in pizza delivery, pizza recipes, and tombstone pizzas.

If you’re a restaurant that specializes in pizzas, then only one of these phrases is likely of value to your business.

The rest of these phrases you need to add as negative keywords to block them from triggering your ad again.

To Access the Google Search Term Report

To see the search terms, log into your Google Ads account and go to keywords.

You’ll see three tabs under keywords, negative keywords, and search terms. Click the final one and you’ll see the phrases listed.

With each phrase you’ll see information such as the number of clicks for a particular word, the number of impressions it received, the cost per click, etc. You can also see the total spent for a particular phrase.

You can access the report as soon as you log into your campaign by clicking the keywords tab, to see all the search terms for the time period you have set (by default it's the last 30 days). You can adjust the time frame by clicking on the date in the upper right-hand corner.

You can also review them in individual campaigns, or even in a specific ad group. You can even review them for a specific keyword. Simply click on the box next to a keyword and then you'll see the option for search term for this specific keyword.

You can see the exact words your prospects typed in that triggered your ads
Find the specific search terms for a keyword by clicking on the keyword

Finding Search Terms for Google Product Listing Ads

Since keywords aren’t used for product listing ads, you might assume that you don’t have search terms. In fact, there are.

When you look at the keywords in product listings you’ll see just two tabs, negative keywords and search terms.

Because a number of elements can trigger a product listing ad, you really want to monitor the phrases here. You’ll likely see products or brands you don’t offer and which you want to block.

Finding search terms for Google Product Listing ads
Find the words that triggered your Google Products Ads.

Find New Keywords To Target

If you see terms that are slightly different than what you’re currently targeting, but that seem relevant, then you want to add them to your keyword list.

Yes, the report shows your ads are being triggered by the phrase, but by adding it to your list you can target it more successfully.

For example, you could incorporate the phrase in its own ad group and create ads that focus on the term. Again to use the pizza example, perhaps you find a number of searches for pizza delivery to a nearby suburb, Collegetown, for example. Since you do, an ad that says Pizza Delivery to Collegetown which will likely do better with that market then a simple generic pizza delivery ad.

Avoid Wasted Spend

One of the main reasons to read the report regularly is that your ads are likely being triggered by phrases that have no value to you. For example, in the ad below the person is obviously searching for IPhone insurance. Yet, one of the ads is for health insurance.

The search term report on Google ads shows phrases unrelated to a business.
The above ad shows for IPhone Insurance when they actually sell health insurance.

The advertiser would only need to add IPhone to their negative keyword list to prevent that from happening. In fact, the advertiser should also add cell phone, Droid, and any other cell phone related terms.

Not only does adding negative keywords to prevent your campaign avoid wasting money on the click,but by eliminating these searches you’re lowering the number of impressions your ads receive, which is also good.

An impression is how many times your ad is shown. Your click through rate is the number of clicks out of the number of impressions received. The better your click through rate, the better it is for your Quality Score.

Because of the way Google’s AdWords algorithm is, the better your Quality Score, the lower your potential cost could be. So even if your clicks don’t increase, by lowering your impressions you improve your CTR.

How To See The Search Term Reports in Bing Ads

Bing Ads also reveals the search terms people used to trigger their ads, but in a different format. One way to access it is to click the Keywords tab. You’ll see a series of columns with keywords, ad group, bid strategy type, etc. Click the box to the left of the keywords column, which will put checks in boxes next too all of the words.

Then look for Details slightly above the columns. Click the drop down there and then click all. You’ll see the search terms listed then.

If you're running similar campaigns on Google and Bing, then one thing to do is add the same negative keywords to both platforms, even if the words haven't yet shown up in your search term reports.

This way you're always blocking these phrases from causing your ad to show, no matter which site they're on.

How to Find the Search Terms For Bing Product Listing Ads

Like Google Product listing ads, you can find the search terms that caused your Bing Product Listings to show.

To see the term here click Reports on the top of your screen and then look for Search Terms along the left. You select the date range and the campaigns you want to see the search terms for, including your Product Listing ads. This is also another way to see the search terms for any campaign you run.

You can view the report either on the page or download it as an excel document if you wish to review it and share it with others.

Again any phrase you find here that isn't of value you want to add not just to Bing, but to Google at the same time, as well. And vice versa.

How Often To Review Search Term Reports?

If the campaign has just started then I recommend checking it every few days, perhaps even daily if your budget is large and your keyword list extensive.

Over time you can cut this back to weekly, perhaps even biweekly or maybe just monthly. Part of this can depend on what type of keyword match types you have in your account. If you have a lot of broad match, which is never a good idea, then you’ll need to review more often. If most are phrase or exact match, you might be able to go longer between reports once you’ve had the campaign going for a while.

Either you way you want to have a regular time frame to review it. According to Google there are billions of searches every day on its search engine and 15% of these searches are phrases they've never seen before. So constantly review your report.

If You’re a Business Owner, Take an Active Role

Even if you have an agency or consultant assisting you I’d recommend reviewing it yourself. With many of my clients I send them a monthly search term report for them to review. Most likely, I’ve caught most of the phrases we either need to target or block. Yet, it doesn’t’ hurt to have a second set of eyes review the list, particularly someone from the company. Occasionally there are phrases that are listed that only a person from the company might spot. If your current agent doesn’t send you the reports, then ask them to. It’s also a way to see how active they are with your campaign.

If you’re doing AdWords yourself or noticed that your agency hasn’t been active with your campaigns, then consider hiring a Google Ads Consultant such as myself. Reviewing the search term report is just one of many ways I get the highest ROI for my clients.